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NightWatch 20100805


For the Night of 5 August 2010

Republic of Korea: The South Korean armed forces began their largest-ever anti-submarine drills on 5 August near the western maritime border with North Korea, Yonhap reported. The five-day exercises, which are "defensive" in nature and intended to prepare the South Korean military against contingencies, have mobilized some 4,500 troops from the army, navy, air force and marines.

"Underwater firing drills" will take place near Baengnyeong Island (P-Y Do), South Korea's northernmost and closest island to North Korea in the Yellow Sea.

China and North Korea have denounced the exercises, which indicates they are having an impact and worth doing. The North may be expected to stage a counter-exercise, probably involving firing by shore batteries.

Taiwan: The US Navy will sell two PERRY-class frigates that are about to be decommissioned, for $20 million each, Apple Daily quoted an unnamed Taiwanese senior officer as saying on 5 August. The sale will be approved formally by the US State Department in late 2010 or early 2011, the paper quoted the officer as saying.

This is certain to evoke a strong Chinese response.

India: The Union Law Ministry ("Union" always signifies a federal agency in New Delhi) agreed to allow Indian law enforcement officers who have been investigating the November 2008 Mumbai attacks to provide depositions to a Pakistani court, Press Trust of India reported 5 August.

The officers recorded the statement given by Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone Pakistani militant captured alive following the attack. Pakistan is also seeking testimony from the judicial officer involved with Kasab's statement. The deposition will help decide charges against Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Comment: This is progress. India is taking a risk with the Pakistani justice system. If it comes up short, India will not trust it again for a generation.

Kyrgyzstan: Protesters holding a rally in the center of Bishkek demanded that the government resign and that President Roza Otunbayeva meet with them, Interfax reported. The protesters also demanded that police checkpoints be removed from the city limits and that additional supporters of prosecuted politician Urmat Baryktobasov be allowed to enter Bishkek.

About 2,000 Baryktobasov supporters gathered near the Kyrgyz parliament building. Two busloads of riot policemen arrived on the scene with helicopter support.

Interior Minister Kubatbek Baybolov said people involved in the 5 August protest rally were planning an armed coup against the Kyrgyz government, Itar-Tass reported. Speaking after a meeting with the heads of security and police agencies, Baybolov said grenades, rifles, pistols and other arms had been distributed to the protesters and that members of organized criminal groups took part in the rally. He added that anyone involved in coup plotting or members of criminal elements will be arrested.

Kyrgyzstan movement leader Urmat Baryktabasov was arrested 5 August near Bishkek on suspicion of plotting a coup, a Kyrgyz government spokesman said, Interfax and Reuters reported. More than 20 of his supporters were also arrested, according to interim Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva.

Note: Today's activities indicate the new Kyrgyzstan government has not yet normalized political conditions or established its authority.

Mauritania-France: For the record. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said there are no French, American or other foreign military bases in Mauritania, but that his country will cooperate with friendly countries to address security challenges, Agence France-Presse reported 5 August, citing a televised interview.

At a news conference on 4 August, Abdel Aziz said Mauritania is not fighting al Qaida, but rather a "local form of terrorism" based in the Sahel region that has invaded Mauritanian territory several times. He also said the Mauritanian Public Treasury allocated $50 million for equipment and modernization of the military and that 60 percent of the money has been used to outfit special units for combating terrorism. He added that the military receives information and technical and logistical support from friendly countries

Mexico: Terrorist-style bombings are increasing. On 3 August, one of the four international bridges linking the US-Mexican border near El Paso, Texas, was closed for two hours after a bomb was found and detonated on the Mexican side of the border, and, on 31 July, assailants threw a bomb at one of the bridges connecting Mexico with Laredo, Texas.

In the past month, cartels have executed, or perhaps experimented with, three bombings, borrowing from terrorist practice. As yet no news sources have reported their assessment of effectiveness, but it does not look good. That means expect more bombings-low cost- high return terrorist tools, in support of drug smuggling.

End of NightWatch for 5 August.

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